How Can I Tell When To Accept Or Reject Advice?

QUESTION: What’s the one thing that those who need it the most want it the least?

ANSWER: Advice 

Life’s challenges and situations can get so complex sometimes, we’re driven to our wit’s end. At such times, we need advice from other people to help us find our way out of the dead-end and move on. That’s where the problem starts.

We live in the information age where almost everyone has an opinion on almost everything. When you do reach out to others, you may find yourself more confused because the people you talked with all had differing opinions on the same issue – and each one had impressive examples to buttress their opinions!

How do you handle this? In what ways can you filter through the pile of advice and pick out what to keep and what to kick? Here are a few questions that might help in the process.

Question #1: Does this advice take me any closer towards my defined purpose?

See ultimately, making decisions should move your life forward (closer towards your purpose). Deciding gets really hard when there is no definite, clear sense of purpose. The more clearly you understand who you’re designed to be and what you’re designed to do, the easier it gets to evaluate advice. Two quick illustrations.

Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law advised him on how to increase his administrative efficiency by harnessing the power of smart delegation (Exodus 18:17-24 This brief exchange is loaded with practical wisdom for daily life. May I recommend that you read it.). The advice came with the capacity to multiply Moses’ effectiveness in the execution of his assignment exponentially. He listened, did as the old man advised and the results were fantastic. Remember the question again – does this advice take me closer towards my purpose? 

Jesus rejected his siblings’ advice because it was contrary to his end goal. Read what they said:

For no one does anything in secret WHEN HE WISHES TO BE CONSPICUOUS AND SECURE PUBLICITY. If You must do these things [if You must act like this], show Yourself openly and make Yourself known to the world!

John 7:4 [The Amplified Bible]

It sounded brilliant – if you’ve got these abilities Jesus, seek the limelight. Try to gain recognition. Pursue popularity. But that was not his purpose. He didn’t come to gain popularity. And His knowledge of what He was designed to be and do enabled him to reject their advice. Do you get the idea?

Question #2: Who is this person advising me?

When it comes to evaluating counsel from others, the messenger is as important as the message. For starters, not everyone should advise you. Train yourself to scrutinise those who speak advice into your life. Who is this person? What is their character? Do they have proofs of what they are suggesting or just spilling fanciful theories?

Getting advice from the wrong kind of person can prove fatal. It can bring permanent damage to your life. Remember Jonadab  (I think he should have been named JonaBAD) who showed Amnon the strategy for committing incest? Check out his profile:

And Amnon had a friend whose name was Jonadab son of Shimeah, David’s brother; AND JONADAB WAS A VERY CRAFTY MAN

2 Samuel 13:3 [The Amplified Bible]

A crafty man can only produce crafty advice and wicked schemes. Amnon was gullible enough to heed this guy’s words and he eventually died for it. And guess who announced his death at the palace?

But Jonadab son of Shimeah, David’s brother, said, Let not my lord suppose they have killed all the King’s sons; FOR AMNON ONLY is dead…

2 Samuel 13 : 32 [The Amplified Bible]

Be careful who you listen to. The fruit cannot be different from the root. And yes, the donkey may speak wisdom but that is the exception, not the rule.

Question #3: Is this advice consistent with the general counsel of God?

Although every unique situation demands its unique approach, there is no justifiable reason to violate God’s principles and counsel as clearly laid out in the bible. Do you find yourself sliding into grey areas in order to follow a particular counsel? Do you find that you’re spending so much time trying to talk yourself into it (“this is no big deal”)? Would you be proud and bold enough to share your decision and action with a trusted spiritual leader or friend if they confronted you? Will accepting that advice require that you compromise your stand on certain key issues?

If your answer is yes, slow down. S-L-O-W-D-O-W-N.

Question #4: Do you have peace in your spirit  (NOT just in your mind) about this?

Having a sense of peace and assurance about your decisions is very important. Anytime you find yourself sensing uneasiness in your spirit about a particular advice, please pause. Don’t be hasty about it.

Take note that I said peace in your spirit  and not necessarily your mind. This is because sometimes, you have received an assurance in your spirit but your mind is still trying to process the logic of the whole process so it is not yet at rest.

Differentiating between peace in your spirit (that comes from God) and peace in your mind (a product of your reasoning and acceptance of certain conditions) is outside the scope of today’s blog but understand that it is possible to have a quiet yet undeniably solid ‘knowing’ within you that a specific advice be accepted even with your mind still calculating how it will all work out. If you’ve ever experienced this, you obviously know what I mean. Now share this with a friend and explain to them what I’m talking about.

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you: not as the world gives, give I to you…

John 14:27 (KJV)

Remember, when you’re being pressured into accepting counsel, push pause – and ask yourself this final question.

Question #5: Regardless of how it turns out, am I prepared to live with the consequences of this advice WITHOUT BLAMING THE ADVISOR LATER?

Answering this question will demand that you be completely honest with yourself and examine the hidden corners of your heart. Are you really R-E-A-L-L-Y prepared to accept whatever comes up as a result of accepting a particular piece of counsel?

Is your sense of personal responsibility strong enough to NOT lash out against the advisor in future if things don’t work out as hoped? Only you can answer this for yourself. Aaron clearly forgot about this question when he acted on the advice from the Jews and made an idol object of worship. Listen to him:

…let not the anger of my lord (Moses) blaze hot; you know the people, that they are set on evil

For they said to me, Make us God’s which shall go before us;…I said to them, Those who have any gold, let them take it off. So they gave it to me; then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf.

Exodus 32:22-24 (KJV)

This would have been funny were it not coming from the high priest – the second in command in the nation at the time! It sounds so childish!

Are you ready to live with the consequences of accepting that advice WITHOUT BLAMING ANYONE, INCLUDING THE ADVISOR IN FUTURE? If your response is a sincere ‘yes’, then go ahead. If you’re not sure you can do that, if you’re still in the habit of blaming others for ‘misleading’ you when you should reexamine yourself for being misled, then you just might want to reconsider before taking any action on what others suggest to you.

Your life in summary, is your personal responsibility. Who you choose to listen to and what you choose to do is ultimately your choice. Choose wisely.

Thank you for reading today. I hope this made some personal meaning to you. There are three things I’d like you to do right away.

1. Review the 5 questions above and see where and how they fit into your life.

2. Share your thoughts with me on how you’ve handled advice in the past and how it turned out. What worked? What didn’t? What did you learn in the process?  The comment section is now open.

3. Copy this link to at least one other young person who you’d love to see make smart decisions always.

Thanks for doing these. I look forward to your reactions, comments and advice *wink* below.

Live by Design.

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